This is a story of industrious energy, inner torment, and determination.
His mother knew how to enjoy singing; his grandmother was a Polish play write and composer. As a child Ash soaked up sounds from films – Cosaks, Gypsies, Zulus; the sound of Tarzan Yodeling and the super-human magic of Yma Sumac. By fourteen He’d acquired his first guitar. He was discouraged, but kicked back. By eighteen, he was soaking up Hendrix, Pink Floyd and Shostakovich. He’d discovered his voice and started writing songs. He was experimenting with unusual instruments and playing in bands.
However, for more than a decade, he lived with the uneasy tension between a true passion for creative expression and a powerful drive to achieve academically. He studied hard; science, humanities, management. He worked globally, in industry and universities; as a computer programmer, a teacher, examiner and manager. But he also worked for a while as a stripper/kissogram, and studied fine art. Eventually though, something had to give. And Ash gave in to just being himself and making music.
What a relief ! Lol.
With newer influences and discoveries like Bjork, Tim Buckley, Moby, and John Martin, Ash started to take covers out to open mics. He started customising instruments again and experimenting with sound scapes and vocal layering.
These days, He performs solo. “Working with other people can be great fun and really fertile creatively, especially if there is a deep connection. But performing every single night as a means to building a business is too difficult with a band”. Driven by the slightly reckless edge of the maverick, He has managed to unleash the gypsy in his soul. “Touring is proving to be the healthiest job I‘ve ever done, and that‘s probably because it’s exactly what I should be doing.“
His audiences are populated by colourful souls. They are drawn by the mix of emotion and mischief in the live act. They are delighted by the hats and costumes, the stories and the comedy. This act shouldn‘t really work in pubs, but it does. And that is testament to the seductive power of true innovation, quality and passion.
(Phillipa Toop: 2010)
Picture a guy walking through the woods, stooping to lift a rock from the undergrowth; sitting to examine it and staying there, focussed till dusk falls. On the other hand you might bump into me and find that I look quite embarrased, because you’ve just caught me practicing special raspberry blowing techniques. That’s me… I studied hard for a long time; art, sciences, humanities, management; but not knowing the answers to some things doesn’t worry me. I worked as a computer programmer, a teacher, examiner and manager in industry and universities in different parts of the world and as a stripper/kissogram. I like digging a lot and growing things, especially pumpkins. I like swimming butterfly slowly, with three kicks to every arm stroke. I am a bit of a dog whisperer. I can’t take football seriously, and I like it when people get the giggles…
I kept coming back to music and when it wasn’t in my life, my life wasn’t that good. So now I make music. I keep a journal… I write stories, poems and songs. I make images and objects; in the past using paint, wood, print, clay, plaster and cement. Now I use photographs and computers to build images, and I make hats from reclaimed leather. Working with other people can be great fun and really fertile creatively, especially if there is a deep connection…
I’ve played guitar since being about 14 and performed as a vocalist in bands while at university. About three years ago I started playing in The Open Mics around Bath. At the beginning, I played covers. I was interested in using a loop machine and building sound-scapes, especially with vocal layering. There were sounds of gypsy, and Zulu tribes pounding away in my head. They came out and developed through the loops. The covers started sounding less like the originals, and often mischief crept in and they went off on wacky tangents. I began writing my own material again. I worked on the customisation of a 12 string acoustic Yamaha guitar; had it parred down to 10 strings with a fretless baritone section and an octavised 12 string section. The bookings came, and I started to get paid. ..
Then I won a competition to become The Bard of Bath. For a year and a day, I worked on a protest against bank charges, getting people to grow pumpkins, telling stories in nurseries and schools, performing poetry and music around Bath, and making films. During this year I also formed my band “The Mandrake Project” (afro-celtic-classical fusion). Highlights of the year included having four events in The Bath Fringe, and playing eight times at Glastonbury Festival.
(Ash June 2008)